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April’s Reigning CD Releases

Liner Notes

Singing the praises of Andrew Bird and The Shins, transcendent picks of the new blooms.

Famous for that wistfully gorgeous Summer of 2004 hit “New Slang” featured in the film “Garden State,” The Shins haven’t had a CD out since 2007.

Wait was worth it. The new CD, “Port of Morrow,” is a new classic, and offers many songs to night-drive your summer away with a cicada buzz and some beach party roar too. Portland-based singer-guitarist James Mercer, hardly the pretty-boy front man, recruited an entirely new backup band to wondrous effect. Check out the music videos for “Simple Song” and “Bait and Switch,” the first potential singles to be leaked out. The CD comes out this week. Here’s some of the venues they’ll be playing:

APRIL

Las Vegas, Nev. @ The Pool At The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas (April 13)
Santa Cruz, Calif. @ Civic Auditorium (22)
Davis, Calif. @ Robert Mondavi Center (23)
Reno, Nev. @ Grand Sierra Resort & Casino (25)

MAY
Bend, Ore. @ Les Schwab Amphitheatre (25)
Salt Lake City, Utah – Red Butte Garden Amphitheater (28)
Morrison, Colo. @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre (29)
Council Bluffs, Iowa @ Harrahs Council Bluffs (31)

Meanwhile, multiple-instrumentalist and the best living whistler we know of since Sufjan Stevens (who he reminds us of but less pretentiously) Andrew Bird, has his best CD ever coming out next month, entitled “Break It Yourself.” His one-hour set at SXSW astounded the audience into rapt silence, then rapturous applause. Was that Bill Murray weeping with a smile?

If you’re not familiar with his music, the moel-good-looking Chicagoan plays mandolins, violins, glockenspiels—the proverbial kitchen sink of Americana instruments—but it all sounds so modern, catchy, affecting. It’s his sixth solo release and may be the big breakthrough at a time when many are sick of electronic-based vocals and overdubs.

His voice leans toward falsetto but not in that cloying Loudon Wainwright way. Jeff Buckley might be a good analogy. Country, blues, rock, and even an Arcade Fire vibe. Sunshine-y music that waxes nostalgic. Hard to explain. Listen instead. We heard him on NPR last week, and were sold. It was like “nature” itself had entered the academic Kurt Anderson studios.

 

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